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A New Model for Gauging Distributed-Learning Maturity

July 22, 2020

The ADL Initiative has released a new research-based model to help organizations evaluate and modernize their distributed learning systems.

The Distributed Learning Capability Maturity Model (DL-CMM) is, essentially, a rubric that organizations can use for self-assessment and to inform their modernization plans. The DL-CMM is meant to provide an enterprise-level view of an organization’s distributed learning. It helps organizations benchmark their distributed learning maturity across five categories: Commitment, Design, Human Infrastructure, Technological Infrastructure, and Data Infrastructure.

Each category includes multiple subcomponents (formally called “key process areas”), and each of those subcomponents is described across progressive levels of maturity (from the “initial” level-0 to the “optimized” level 4). For example, in the Technological Infrastructure category one of the subcomponents is Learner Identity Management. The table below shows the five maturity levels for that key process area.

Process Area Level 0 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Learner Identity Management (How pervasive is the learning identity solution?) Local sign-on credentials are required per application or computer/device. Local sign-on credentials are required per organization. A secure token-Single Sign-On (SSO), like a Common Access Card, is used only within the closed Government infrastructure. A secure token SSO, like ID.ME, is used within the closed Government and private infrastructure. Federated SSO is required across disintermediated enclaves.
Process Area Level 0 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Process Area
Learner Identity Management (How pervasive is the learning identity solution?)
Level 0
Local sign-on credentials are required per application or computer/device.
Level 1
Local sign-on credentials are required per organization.
Level 2
A secure token-Single Sign-On (SSO), like a Common Access Card, is used only within the closed Government infrastructure.
Level 3
A secure token SSO, like ID.ME, is used within the closed Government and private infrastructure.
Level 4
Federated SSO is required across disintermediated enclaves.

Capability maturity models are commonly used in technology fields. Like the new DL-CMM, most maturity models involve multidimensional measures of the degree of formality and optimization (maturity) of an organization’s processes. They typically include several categories that together make up the major tasks or focus areas within the model. Maturity models are used for internal assessment, investment planning, and comparisons across organizations.

The ADL Initiative’s newly released DL-CMM report describes the original research that informed the model, and it gives general advice on using the DL-CMM in practice. The corresponding DL-CMM interactive spreadsheet makes the self-assessment process easier. Organizations, enterprises, and projects endeavoring to implement online and blended learning are candidates for using the DL-CMM.

Download a copy of the DL-CMM Technical Report, and the corresponding interactive DL-CMM rubric spreadsheet. For more information on these documents or the larger research effort, contact the ADL Initiative.

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